Why Is Falling In Love Is Somewhat Similar To Getting Drunk [Research]
A British study suggests that falling in love is quite similar to... getting drunk, as strange as this may sound.
Scientists discovered that the love hormone, oxytocin, has similar effects to getting drunk, and these don't just involve the "pleasant" aspects of getting drunk, according to The Telegraph.
Researchers found that not only does oxytocin make lovers more relaxed, happy, and confident, but it can also cause aggression, jealousy, and arrogance.
Oxytocin is a hormone produced in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and plays a significant role in forming relationships, falling in love, and making friends.
Scientists at the University of Birmingham tested subjects to discover whether the effects of alcohol consumption were similar to those of oxytocin, which was administered via a spray.
Is Falling In Love Somewhat Similar To Getting Drunk?
Dr. Ian Mitchell, from the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology, said the tests found incredible similarities between the two states.
"The two states appear to target different receptors within the brain but cause common actions. These neural circuits control how we perceive stress or anxiety, especially in social situations like interviews, or may even help us find the courage to ask someone out on a date," Mitchell said.
Oxytocin boosts pro-social behaviors such as altruism, generosity, and empathy and makes us more willing to trust others. Those effects occur because the hormone appears to remove the brakes on social inhibitors like fear, anxiety, and stress in the same way that alcohol does.
The "Dutch Courage"
Researchers say this may explain why first dates often involve alcohol because prospective partners use the "Dutch Courage" to reflect feelings of love.
Dr. Steven Gillespie said, "The idea of Dutch Courage - drinking a little alcohol to calm your emotions - is used to counter those immediate obstacles such as fear and anxiety.
"Oxytocin seems to mirror these effects in the lab."
However, the researchers warn against self-medicating with either this hormone or an alcoholic drink to generate a little self-confidence in difficult moments.
In addition to the health fears that accompany frequent alcohol consumption, there are other less desirable socio-cognitive effects that both alcohol and oxytocin can facilitate.
People may become more aggressive, more arrogant, more envious of those they perceive to be their competitors, or favor their friends over others.
The two states can also affect our sense of fear which normally protects us from getting into trouble and we often hear of people taking risks they wouldn't normally take.
A certain dose of either state can further influence how we relate to others by enhancing our perception of trust, which could lead to a further increase in the danger of taking unnecessary risks.
The study's findings were published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.